Lung function in adults with stable but severe asthma: Air trapping and incomplete reversal of obstruction with bronchodilation

Ronald L. Sorkness, Eugene R. Bleecker, William W. Busse, William J. Calhoun, Mario Castro, Kian Fan Chung, Douglas Curran-Everett, Serpil C. Erzurum, Benjamin M. Gaston, Elliot Israel, Nizar N. Jarjour, Wendy C. Moore, Stephen P. Peters, W. Gerald Teague, Sally E. Wenzel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

202 Scopus citations

Abstract

Five to ten percent of asthma cases are poorly controlled chronically and refractory to treatment, and these severe cases account for disproportionate asthma-associated morbidity, mortality, and health care utilization. While persons with severe asthma tend to have more airway obstruction, it is not known whether they represent the severe tail of a unimodal asthma population, or a severe asthma phenotype. We hypothesized that severe asthma has a characteristic physiology of airway obstruction, and we evaluated spirometry, lung volumes, and reversibility during a stable interval in 287 severe and 382 nonsevere asthma subjects from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Severe Asthma Research Program. We partitioned airway obstruction into components of air trapping [indicated by forced vital capacity (FVC)] and airflow limitation [indicated by forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1)/FVC]. Severe asthma had prominent air trapping, evident as reduced FVC over the entire range of FEV1/FVC. This pattern was confirmed with measures of residual lung volume/total lung capacity (TLC) in a subgroup. In contrast, nonsevere asthma did not exhibit prominent air trapping, even at FEV1/FVC <75% predicted. Air trapping also was associated with increases in TLC and functional reserve capacity. After maximal bronchodilation, FEV1 reversed similarly from baseline in severe and nonsevere asthma, but the severe asthma classification was an independent predictor of residual reduction in FEV1 after maximal bronchodilation. An increase in FVC accounted for most of the reversal of FEV1 when baseline FEV1 was <60% predicted. We conclude that air trapping is a characteristic feature of the severe asthma population, suggesting that there is a pathological process associated with severe asthma that makes airways more vulnerable to this component.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)394-403
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
Volume104
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2008

Keywords

  • Airway closure
  • Difficult asthma
  • Fixed obstruction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)

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    Sorkness, R. L., Bleecker, E. R., Busse, W. W., Calhoun, W. J., Castro, M., Chung, K. F., Curran-Everett, D., Erzurum, S. C., Gaston, B. M., Israel, E., Jarjour, N. N., Moore, W. C., Peters, S. P., Teague, W. G., & Wenzel, S. E. (2008). Lung function in adults with stable but severe asthma: Air trapping and incomplete reversal of obstruction with bronchodilation. Journal of Applied Physiology, 104(2), 394-403. https://doi.org/10.1152/japplphysiol.00329.2007